The Maison du Languedoc, or to give it its full name the Maison de la Région Occitanie/Pyrénées-Méditerranée hosted a brilliant tasting last week, showing an enormous selection of the wines from the Languedoc that are available on UK wine merchants and supermarket shelves. As you might expect, the likes of Gérard Bertrand, Domaines Paul Mas, the Cave de Roquebrun and Domaine Ste Rose were well-represented, but there was also plenty to discover, from smaller, independent wine growers. What follows are some highlights among the 154 bottles that were open. The one disappointment was that very few people attended the tasting – it was one of those busy days when the tasting calendar was crammed. And may I say that I certainly did not taste all 154 wines, partly as they included a few wines from the Pyrénées-Méditerranée, such as Gaillac and Cahors.
Starting off with a pair of Picpoul that were unfamiliar, and then a favourite:
2016 Picpoul de Pinet, Domaine de Morin-Langaran – Corney & Barrow - £9.50
Light stony nose and quite a fragrant rounded, supple palate.
2016 Picpoul de Pinet, Château Petit Roubie – Vintage Roots - £9.95
Quite a firm salty nose, with some fresh acidity and stony fruit on the palate.
2016 Picpoul de Pinet Château St Martin de la Garrigue – Laithwaites - £13.99
This is a Picpoul with depth and character, with firm salty notes on both nose and palate. More weight on the palate than the preceding two wines.
And to my surprise I found a couple of Chardonnay that I liked, but from a producer who has links with Chablis
2016 Chardonnay de la Chevalière, Mas de la Chevalière, Pays d’Oc – Liberty Wines - £11.99
Lightly leesy notes and a lightly buttery nose and palate. Nicely understated, with good acidity.
2014 Mas de la Chevalière, Vignoble Peyroli, Liberty Wines - £15.99
This comes from some of the most northern and coolest vineyards of the Languedoc, near Lunas, and is rich and leesy after some ageing in an oak barrel. Nicely textured and very satisfying.
2016 Domaine d’Aigues Belles, Le Blanc, Chardonnay – Your Sommelier - £17.80
From an estate that was new to me, at Brouzet-les-Quissac, near the Pic St. Loup. The wine has lovely varietal character, with nicely understated oak and leesy Chardonnay flavours. Finely crafted.
2016 Mas Cristine, Côtes du Roussillon – Clark Foyster Wines - £18.00
A blend of Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Macabeo and a little Roussanne. Quite a firm lemony nose, with a rounded fragrant palate. Satisfying mouthfeel and textured. Amply illustrating the success of Grenache Gris and Macabeo for white wine in Roussillon.
2012 Le Soula, Côtes Catalanes – Uncorked, FMW Wines, Justerini & Brooks - £29.00
A blend of Macabeo, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc and Marsanne. Quite a rich, firm slatey nose and stony. Firm stony fruit, with good acidity. Textured, youthful. Lots of nuances.
2016 Terret Blanc, Calmel & Joseph, Pays d’Oc – Waitrose Exclusive - £8.49
Good to see that this indigenous Languedoc variety is even attracting supermarket interest. The flavours are firm and tight, with refreshing acidity and a stony freshness.
2016 Château de Valflaunès, Pourquoi Pas? – The Wine Society - £10.50
A blend of predominantly Roussanne, with Marsanne and some Vermentino. A rounded nose with some hints of white blossom, and a lightly nutty palate, with some well-integrated oak.
2015 Laurent Miquel, Albariño, Pays d’Aude – Waitrose - £11.49
Laurent Miquel is the pioneer of Albariño in the Languedoc. You would normally find it in Galicia, but Laurent has planted it in the Corbières hills above Lagrasse. Lightly peachy fruit on the nose. A rounded fragrant palate, with convincing varietal character.
2015 Mas Gabriel, Clos des Papillons, Pays de l’Hérault – The Wine Society - £13.50
From 85% Carignan blanc, another indigenous variety that is becoming more popular, thanks to its high acidity levels and ability to sustain drought, and some Vermentino. This is fresh and structured with some herbal notes and an elegant palate. A fresh finish.
2016 Faugères, Domaine du Météore, les Léonides – Stone Vine & Son - £13.50
A blend, predominantly of Roussanne, with Vermentino and some Clairette. Quite ripe and rounded white blossom on the nose, with an elegant palate. Youthful acidity and nicely textured.
Next a pair of rosés :
2016 Piquepoul Rosé, Coteaux d’Ensérune, Vignobles Foncalieu – Ellis of Richmond , Love Wine - £11.85
Another unusual grape variety. We are all familiar with Piquepoul blanc, but not with Piquepoul Noir. As a rosé it makes a fresh fragrant wine with good acidity and some hints of raspberry fruit.
2016 Château de Lascaux, Garrigue Rosé – Your Sommelier - £12.50
A blend of Cinsaut, Grenache Noir and Syrah. Very pretty delicate colour, lightly fragrant fruit and a delicate palate, with good acidity and an elegant finish. From a leading Pic St Loup estate.
And now for some reds:
2016 Corbières, Domaine St Auriol – Waitrose - £6.99
A blend of Grenache Noir, Syrah and Carignan. Great value for money. Spicy rugged ripe fruit on both and palate.
2014 Domaine la Tasque, Carignan, Pays d’Aude – The Wine Society - £14.50
Carignan with a splash of Syrah, made by a fellow MW Juliet Bruce-Jones. This is her first serious vintage, with just two hectares of vines in the Minervois. I like Carignan and this is nicely characterful, with a fresh finish.
2015 The Society’s Corbières – The Wine Society - £7.75
More good value Corbières, from a leading Corbières estate of Château Ollieux-Romanis. Rounded ripe fruit on the nose and palate, with hints of tapenade. Nicely mouth filling.
2015 Minervois, Château Villerambert, les Truffiers – Laithwaites - £12.99
Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. Rounded ripe spicy fruit on nose and palate, with good mouthfeel. A lovely glass of wine from a highly reputable estate.
2014 Languedoc, Domaine les Grandes Costes, Musardises – Laithwaites - £14.99
The blend comprises 60% Cinsaut with 20% each of Grenache Noir and Syrah. The Cinsaut dominates the palate so that the fruit is deliciously elegant and fragrant. Another lovely glass of wine, from a Pic St. Loup producer.
2013 Château Maris, le Carignan de Maris, Coteaux de Peyriac – Vintage Roots - £10.95
Another characterful Carignan from a leading Minervois producer, outside the village of La Livinière. Medium weight but quite rounded with some firm fruit.
2014 Languedoc, Château de Lascaux, Garrigue rouge – Vintage Roots - £11.75
A blend of Syrah, Grenache Noir and Mourvèdre, with rounded spicy fruit.
2014 Pic St. Loup, Château de Lascaux, Carra – Vintage Roots - £14.75
A blend of 60% Syrah with 40% Grenache Noir. Elegant spice on both nose and palate, with supple tannins. Beautifully balanced, with elegance of the cooler climate of the Pic St. Loup.
2015 St Chinian, Mas Champart, Côte d’Arbo – Berry Bros & Rudd - £15.50
From a leading St. Chinian producer. A blend of 35% Syrah, 30% Grenache, Noir, 25% Carignan and 10% Mourvèdre. Elegance is the hallmark of this wine, with supple tannins and youthful spicy fruit.
2014 Corbières, Domaine de la Cendrillon, Classique – Tanners Wines - £12.30
A blend of Grenache and Syrah with 15% Mourvèdre. Ripe spicy fruit on both nose and palate, with a nicely rounded finish. Conjures up the warm south, but without being heavy.
2012 Corbières, Domaine de la Cendrillon, Inédite – Tanners Wines - £16.50
From 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache Noir and 20% Mourvèdre. Rounded spicy fruit, and with more depth than the Classique, and ripe cherry flavours from the Grenache, and attractive development on the palate.
2016 Collioure, Coume del Mas, Schistes – Clark Foyster Wines - £25.00
The notes say pure Grenache, which surprises me for a Collioure, but the flavours are redolent of ripe cherries that characterise that grape variety. It is rich and elegantly rounded on the finish.
2011 Le Soula Rouge, Côtes Catalanes – Hedonism, Woodwinters, Berry Bros & Rudd - £26.50
60% Carignan, with Syrah and a little Grenache. Medium colour, with quite a firm structured nose. A characterful palate; some viandé notes but with a distinct freshness on the palate, as well as a streak of tannin, the result of higher altitude vineyards and biodynamic viticulture.
2012 Terrasses du Larzac, Mas Jullien, Carlan – Berry Bros & Rudd - £31.50
A great finale to the tasting, from one of the Languedoc’s most thoughtful winemakers. Elegantly leathery flavours, developing some attractive mature notes on the palate. Subtle and elegant. A delicious glass of wine. I was beginning to run out of adjectives by this time!